By RYAN TOLMICH
Hours after news broke that Chivas USA would cease to exist, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber revealed how the league was planning to remedy mistakes made by the club.
Garber, who was in charge for the league’s previous contraction in 2001, discussed the shortcomings of Chivas USA on Monday via conference call, while also revealing what the future of Los Angeles’ second club would look like. Garber reiterated that more information would be made available during a press conference Thursday, but admitted that the initial plans for Chivas USA were misguided, paving the way for Monday’s announcement.
“Unfortunately, our plan for Chivas USA was based on a brand that was targeted specifically to the Hispanic market,” Garber said. “We found out very quickly that that strategy wasn’t effective. We had some internal issues amongst the ownership group that led to a mediation that the league managed and the Vergara family ultimately took over the team from their partner, the Cue family.
“We also believed that the club could coexist with the Galaxy and share the StubHub Center. We found out that this really didn’t position the club effectively and, as you will see on Thursday, the new team has plans for their own soccer-specific stadium.”
The plans for the new stadium, which Garber said could potentially be placed around the campus of USC, will allow the reborn club, which will start play in 2017, to maintain a rivalry with the LA Galaxy. Garber said that rivalry is one of the most important factors in growing the league, citing previous years as an example of how fierce the LA battles can be.
“We really believe that rivalries matter, that a rivalry with the Galaxy, one of our more successful teams, will elevate the sport,” Garber said. “We saw how successful and popular that rivalry could be with the SuperClasico in the early years of Chivas USA and we’ve seen how that rivalry works both in the Pacific Northwest but also in the Los Angeles-Seattle rivalry that led to almost 60,000 people attending the Supporters’ Shield final game in Seattle on Saturday.
“LA is a huge market. It’s got lots and lots of soccer fans. It has a very diverse population and lots of sponsors and corporations that have been engaged in the game and want to be engaged in the game further. We believe that there is an opportunity to build a stadium in a downtown location that will connect with an audience that could help elevate the sport in a very, very big city.”
Garber also pointed to reasons why Los Angeles was set to receive a second chance, despite rumblings from potential teams in Sacramento, Minnesota and numerous other locations scattered throughout the country.
Overall, Garber pointed to the uniqueness of the Los Angeles market, although the commissioner left the door open for plenty of future expansion.
“Having two teams in Los Angeles doesn’t mean that we might not, through expansion, end up having teams in many markets that can put that formula together that we believe drives success,” Garber said. “A market that is passionate about the sport, that has a large corporate base, that has plans for a downtown soccer-specific stadium or one that is connected with the urban core and, very importantly, has a committed ownership group that has the desire and resources to invest in Major League Soccer over a long period of time.
“That is the formula that drives success in Major League Soccer and if that formula exists in new markets, and I know that they do, we will continue to engage with them because I believe this can and will get larger over time.”
Meanwhile, Garber also discussed the future of Chivas USA’s crown jewel, forward Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres, who is currently in negotiations to remain with the league. Due to the Mexican star’s unique contract, the league is currently unsure how Torres will be dispersed if and when he signs with the league.
“We’re in discussions with Erick and his representatives about signing him to a long-term contract that will keep him in MLS,” Garber said. “As you probably know, when he came over here from Guadalajara, we had an option to purchase him from the team and then sign him to a contract and that is a different scenario than what we had with every other player on the roster. We will have to treat Erick’s situation differently, just based on how he was signed by Major League Soccer for the 2014 season.”
Finally, the commissioner reiterated his sympathies to Chivas USA’s fans, who Garber praised for their loyalty throughout the club’s tumultuous history.
“I think, most importantly, while there weren’t many, particularly at the end, there were some fans that were really committed to this club and believed in it and stuck through Chivas USA through thick and thin,” Garber said. “I want to say to all of them that we appreciate their support and that we hope that they will stick around and be part of the relaunch of a new Los Angeles team in 2017.”
What do you make of Garber’s comments? What do you think of the league’s handling of Chivas USA’s demise? Where do you see Torres ending up?
Share your thoughts below.
Is USC near downtown? I though USC was supposed to be in a bad neighborhood and not in the downtown area?
Why not just have the team in San Diego? They can still develop a rivalry there while bringing in a whole new market.
need an owner.
I personally think that’s a good idea, as long as San Diegans truly want an MLS team. There’s already a perfect site for a stadium in Balboa Stadium, directly adjacent to I-5 in downtown, south of Balboa Park. I just don’t see the demand for an MLS team there. A lot of San Diegans support the Xolos and/or the Galaxy.
it’s a fantastic location, but that is now a high school stadium with the high school right next to it. it would create a lot of issues to turn that into an MLS stadium.
“Unfortunately, our plan for Chivas USA was based on a brand that was targeted specifically to the Hispanic market. We found out very quickly that that strategy wasn’t effective.”
Maybe that seemed like a brilliant idea when the team was conceived over 10 years ago, but it just seems antiquated today. Southern California, for all its “Latin-ness,” is a plural society with people and influences from all over, not just Mexico. Chicanos and Mexican immigrants make up a the largest minority, but there’s a huge degree of assimilation that takes place for most of them.
Also, Californians love California. It’s a special place on its own merits. Why create a team that owes its status to another team in another country? The Galaxy – as cheesy as that moniker is – is uniquely So Cal. Chivas USA was ill conceived and fatally exclusionary. Hopefully LA3 (Chivas was LA2) is exciting, inclusive, and doesn’t pander. Pick a winning brand, build a winning team, and I’m sure LA3 will find success.
Is USC too close to Carson? Doesn’t really seem like a different region of the LA area.
Not from LA; asking..
30 minutes to an hour and fifteen min depending on traffic.
More like 20 minutes to infinity, depending on traffic. Traffic is the ultimate variable in So Cal. It’s only 13 miles apart, and a straight shot down the 110. If you make the trip at 5 AM, it’s less than 15 minutes. If you make the trip at 5 PM, it could literally take over an hour.
Very different. Understand that this isn’t really about neighborhod loyalties…. Carson is not really the central hub and place of residence for the Galaxy fanbase Galaxy fans are spread all over LA, dating back to the Rose Bowl days. And for most of us, trekking to Carson is just an unpleasantness endured solely for Galaxy games.
Downtown is convenient for most everyone because it is highly central, located on top of the major freeway intersections, and is well connected to public transportation. I don’t know that it will help LA2 in trying to raid LAG’s existing customer base, but it could be a big factor in influencing the allegiances of new fans
If the dispersal draft ends up being all the good players end up in Seattle, LA and New York through some mysterious interpretation of never before heard of rules, I might have to re-evaluate my support for MLS.
That is exactly what is going to happen. Cubo(all the good players) will go to whoever wants to put up the salary the league is negotiating right now, assuming they sign him. Everyone else will go into a draft, reverse order of standings, similar to re-entry draft. Teams will need to take a player’s salary or renegotiate their deal if they pick him. I guess Kennedy is good too but he’ll still go into the draft.
FC Hollywood Stars
Already have a Galaxy of stars in town…. guess could put the team in the valley try to one up with Universal City FC. or coat tail USC with Universal Soccer Club. Naaaaaaah
With the single-entity structure, it would be more honest just to call Garber the league’s CEO.
The West next year is going to be a blood bath, should be interesting to watch for sure.
There are several viable markets that should be considered. And geography is important. Indianapolis and Minneapolis could solidify the Midwest. San Antonio and Phoenix will complete the Southwest. Sacramento Las Vegas , Miami, North Carolina are all wanting MLS franchises. In the long term MLS could be the best and biggest league in the world. America the beautiful game is here to stay. And we have to give Mr. Garner much of the credit. His actions to mitigate the Chivas USA mistake are spot on. LA2 will be a success. It’s surprises me that people still question his judgment.
Who will own this new LA club?
The new ownership group — which, according to SI.com, includes venture capitalist Henry Nguyen, Mandalay Entertainment Chairman and CEO Peter Guber, former NBA executive and current ESPN analyst Tom Penn, and current Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan — will be officially introduced on Thursday. That announcement will also shed light on the group’s plans to build a soccer stadium in the Los Angeles area.
Galaxy fan. I wish for Cubo Torres to play for the galaxy. This kid got game. His football skills are amazing. Kris klein make it happen. He will sell lots of shirts and fill the stadium.
Any names, inter Los Angeles, Aztecs, angel city, Hollywood.
If garber is a genius, bring Miami and Los Angeles together and work with Sacramento, Minneapolis right now.
Hopefully MLS gets Sacramento, Miami, Los angles 2, Minneapolis, Vegas and st.louis at the end, making it 28!team league.
At least I understand that Chivas USA was trying to build a Latino Fan base, but what incentive does a fan have in becoming a fan of the new LA 2 instead of the LA Galaxy? It doesn’t make any sense to me.
primarily, location. other than that, player signings will come into play. in other words, the same way any other team attracts fans.
But it’s not the same way any team attracts fans because a lot of people, actually most people, just follow a team because it’s the local team. Here, there’s already a super popular and successful local team so why not just expand elsewhere?
“actually most people, just follow a team because it’s the local team. ”
ummmm, is that not what i just said? location=local team. if they locate LA2 downtown, as an example, chances are the fans they draw will come from that local vicinity.
“Here, there’s already a super popular and successful local team so why not just expand elsewhere?”
by that logic, why are there Angels fans? or Mets fans? the city, as a whole, already has the Dodgers and Yankees. why? because you can drill down a city-wide location into “smaller” markets that are still big enough to support another team.
LAG will continue to be the dominating team of LA, but that was not the question. the question was how will LA2 attract fans? they will do that by locating in an area that is away from Carson, CA. which is EASY to do given the size of metro LA. from there, player signings and many other factors will come into play in how they draw fans.
A lot is going to depend on the “brand”. It could be a deal where there’s a partnership with an EPL team like NYC FC is half owned and branded very closely to resemble Man City. So if there’s Real LA – half owned by Real Madrid – boom. Instant fans.
Fine line between targeting demographics and pandering.
It’s hard for people who have never been to the LA area to understand just how mind bogglingly huge the metro area is. The population is not that far behind New York, but it’s spread out over a much, much larger area, and that’s not even including San Diego and environs, which pretty much blends in without a gap in development. Getting from one region of the metro area (yes region is a more appropriate word than neighborhood) to another, takes a truly motivated individual. Orange County, for example, might as well be in a different state as far as people who live in West LA are concerned, not to mention the Valley, East LA, Inland Empire etc. Believe me, there’s plenty of room for two teams to coexist in the LA area, as the NBA, MLB, and the NHL can attest.
+1. It’s a very difficult thing to explain, and mileage is actually a pretty bad metric when comparing the difference between a place like downtown and a place like Carson. Actually, the time between the places is something of a write-off, because you are in your car, usualy cruising at a reasonable pace because games are on weekends…. The 25 minutes would not be aggravating really to most people with access to a decent car and $15 for parking.
Where it gets different is when you approach the destination. Downtown these days is a vibrant and ever-transforming place, home to numerous sports teams (all of which have benefitted from the move) and perhaps more in the near future. There are now countless restaurants, as well as bars, train stations, and excellent proximity to four major freeways. Downtown LA is about as centrally located as a downtown business center can be in this country. It is a hub and it’s no surprise that so many leagues are looking to site teams there,
Carson offers headaches. Is is unremarkable suburbia that is centrally located to nothing and less fashionable than Mervyn’s. There are some mediocre chain restaurants that you will not be able to get to because the traffic infrastructure probits most movements. Getting out is even worse…. expect to be trapped in the lot to 30-45 minutes before you can get started on your hour commute back to civilization (unless you live in South Bay, which is quite convenient)
” expect to be trapped in the lot to 30-45 minutes before you can get started on your hour commute back to civilization”
You’re doing it wrong, Ali. Park in Lot 13 or Lot 3, as close to the exit as possible. I’m out in 5 minutes every time, even in the teeth of high traffic times.
Hey worth a shot. Thanks– will give it a try next time.
You are absolutely correct. And things being as they are in So Cal, with all its urban and suburban sprawl, the owners of the new LA team ought to focus their attention on a specific area: Downtown, West LA, East LA, the Valley, Orange County/Long Beach, or the IE. It could be done in a way that appeals to everyone, but targets a subset of the greater So Cal population, much like how the Angels are very much Orange County’s team.
But I’m sure the new team will be the “Los Angeles ____,” rather than a specific, targeted regional team. Maybe, if we’re lucky, they’ll be the “Los Angeles ____ of Anaheim.” 😉
LA could support four teams if the location is right.
South Bay, DTLA, SFV, Inland Empire.
Rather than flipping a coin for Cubo, why not just play the number guessing game. “Guess the number behind my back, between 1 and 50, winner gets Torres”
COL to Cubo. I’ll buy his ticket.